A “very small” task

The clouds were clearing on the morn of a new day, Julala was wandering along the path out of Roonwit as the sun rose over the top of Mount Pelion.  As she looked up she saw the outline in the sunlight. She recognized at once the graceful outline of Zephyrus, the God of the Spring Wind.  

Julala smiled as the figure approached across the sky bringing with it the light from the rising sun. “Greetings to you, Zephyrus”, Julala lowered her head and then looked up again to see her radiance.

“Julala, your people worked so hard and found the lost crystal of Willowford Abbot. It’s been lost for such a long time and it’s so important that we found it.” Julala continued to smile. She knew how hard the community had searched for the crystal ring, they had searched day and night with the “help” of the goblins.

Zephyrus continued. “Julala, I have an important task for you now” Julala winced a little wondering how many stink toads and gilly worms might die this time… and she had only just cleared up the mess certain Goblins, – mentioning no names Turd – had left about the place. “I can not say why at this time for I know not all futures, but I know you must prepare an offering for the fae”.

Julala felt conflicted. She is part fae herself, and many of her kinfolk had sacrificed themselves to give her the power to overthrow Vitrolia …but in recent times the unseelie fae had brought about troubles for the centaurs and fair folk of Centauria. The whole Hopping Jack saga had left everyone hopeful in his salvation …yet cautious of what may come after the disappearance of Sharpclaw back to the unseelie folk.  Julala knew the rift between seelie and unseelie could be vast. She wondered to which she was making an offering.

“An offering …of what kind should we make, great Zephyrus? I heard milk and honey was a good thing to offer the fae. Are we talking milk and honey?” Zephyrus shook her head. ”Milk and honey is always good but… this is something a tiny bit more than milk and honey”.

“Hmm… maybe wine …and cookies” thought Julala, but before she could finish that thought, the magnitude of the task at hand became clear. “You must build a welcoming space Julala, a space that would attract the seelie folk …a home. You know they hide deep in the ground but now… we need them to make themselves known and we need them to bring their magical presence to Centauria. Build them a home and they will come.”

“A… home. Oh…right”. Julala realized her thoughts of milk, honey, wine and cookies might have been somewhat of an underestimation. “Alright then. A home they shall have, Great Zephyrus”

“One more thing.” Zephyrus spoke. And Julala wondered if she would now be building a home for goblins… “The lost crystal of Willowford Abbot had to be found for a reason. You must place it at the center of the home of the fae in centauria, it will be important in the times to come.”

Julala felt a twang of frustration. Why must these gods speak in riddles? She suspected Zephyrus knew more than she was letting on and felt irritated that she was not privy to this information. Zephyrus beamed and Julala felt the warmth on her face, squinting slightly in the bright light emanating from the goddess. “Julala…” she said softly “…Have faith in your gods”.

Julala remembered how much the gods had helped over the years… and was humbled. “A home for the fae it shall be, with the crystal at its heart” She reassured Zephyrus of her loyalty. Her frustration melted away but she was left with a feeling of apprehension. She wondered what might be the purpose of this new task…

As Zephyrus glided away, Julala sighed and headed in the direction of the healer’s hut. Maybe she should stop off and get some cookies for her Warden…

Julala wandered down to the healers hut…cookies in-hand.  She knocked on the open door. “Woohoo…” She peeps her head inside.

Cinn stretched her body over the bushes as she heard the familiar voice, she was trimming out some rogue limbs. Quickly got on her feet and rushed to the gate to welcome her Queen. “Hello Your Majesty! Please come in! To what do I owe your visit?”

“Oh well… Firstly, I wanted to bring you some of these wonderful fresh cookies” Julala wafts them under the healer’s nose. “…and um… yes… something else”.

“Ohhh….” The healer smelled the freshly made cookies and received them with a smile. “Thank you so much, my Queen, you shouldn’t have! Please come on in…” Cinn gestured Queen Julala to follow her to the living area by the creek, and served the cookies on a tray on the coffee table. “Would you like some tea? I do hope that ‘something else’ it’s not a bad thing…”

Julala followed the healer and took a seat. “I’d love some tea, thank you. Ronald has been doing some extra cooking classes and he absolutely promised that he hasn’t put anything yucky in the cookies. And… no. Not a bad thing”  Julala sipped her tea.

“W..hat….??” The healer nearly choked, then nervously smiled… then eyed the cookie she had just given a bite, and slowly swallowed it trying to be really polite. She served herself some more tea and drank it really quick… “Well… I am all ears. How can I serve, your Majesty?”

“So…I’ve had a visit from Zephyrus…” Julala coughed a little, placed the cookie back on the table and put a napkin over it. “…I think it’s quite important actually and I am trying not to get concerned… no point in worrying before we know there is a reason to worry… by the way, your flowers are looking amazing there…” She pointed, and while the healer looked away, Julala slided the cookie off the table and onto the floor and hid it under her foot.

“…Flowers? Oh those! yes, bougainvilleas, such a nice bush isn’t it??…” Cinn turned her head to look at the flowers, then looked back at the Queen… “And Zephyrus? um… Are we needing flowers for Zephyrus??”

“Ah no… a bit more than flowers, actually”. Julala gets to the point at hand. “So, Zephyrus has indicated that we should -well… must actually- build a home for… the fae.”  Julala sees the Healer’s eyes grow large and quickly continues. “She says it’s important, that we must build a home for the fae, and they will come”.

“And there’s more. The lost crystal of Willowford abbot… the crystal we all found for her… well, the reason she wanted it is becoming clear. Well… clearer in a way although I do NOT have all the details” Julala pulls out the crystal from her pouch and places it on the table.  “She says this must be at the center of the home of the fae. I’m guessing we need to build a few homes… a village, I guess… so er …how is your schedule looking?”  Julala smiles sweetly at the Healer and continues to sip her tea.

“So we must, huh…” The healer took the unusually shiny gem from the table and examined it carefully. “Well, If Zephyrus commands, your Majesty, consider it done. We shall not question a task coming from a god… and if the fae are to come, that only means it should be a good thing… hopefully. And there’s not much more in my schedule than the usual warden rounds, and healer tasks.” She put the crystal back on the table, and refilled both cups with more tea, then drank a few sips, quickly glanced at the bitten cookie in front of her, and pushed it a bit away.

Julala hid her smirk seeing the healer push the cookie away. She will be having words with Ronald when she gets back to the castle.  “Indeed. So I think I’ve seen a bit of Centauria where we could do this. We better get on to it fairly quickly, I’m not sure of the urgency of it but I’m guessing we weren’t supposed to sit on it for too long.” 

“Absolutely, my Queen, I’ll put hooves on the task right away. It shouldn’t take long, hopefully. It would be like building dollhouses!” Cinn replied excitedly, as the Queen stood up ready to part away, not before taking Willowford’s crystal in her hand. “And I’ll find a nice place to put this gem safely in the middle of it” She tucked it in her side pocket. “Oh. Would you like some of Ronald’s cookies for the trip back to the castle?? I don’t mind sharing!”.

“Oh no no, please do keep them, he made them so lovingly for you… k’ then, see you, bye!” Julala made haste before the healer could give her the cookies… or notice the one trodden into the ground under the table. The healer walked Queen Julala to the gate, …more like catching up after her, and stood up at the door waving goodbye. “I’ll send Zipporah with a note when I’m ready to begin the tasks… Oh… speaking of Zipporah….” The healer paused before continuing, not sure if it’s the right moment to talk about it. “Um… maybe another time. Have a safe trip back home, my Queen!” She closed the door behind her, and staring at the tray of cookies from afar, she made a ‘yuck’ face…. “Maybe the squirrels will eat those…”.

The next day, the healer sent Zipporah to the castle with a note for Queen Julala; she was ready to start with the tasks given by Zephyrus. Cinnamon loaded all her gardening tools into her wagon and headed out to the piece of land near Roonwit marked by the Queen. She spent all morning digging and shoveling mounds of dirt, turning them into nice hills. “These will be a nice spot for some tiny houses, in summer the rain will not flood them, and during winter the snow won’t cover them up!” She thought to herself. And with bits of nature magic (the healer’s favorite kind of tricks), seeded the area with nice toadstools and mushrooms, and all sorts of glowing magic-like plants. Surely the Fae would find the shrooms feel like home. “Maybe we should add some signs for the big taurs passing by, they need to watch their step when going through this path!”.

And so the fae village was built and before long, just as Zephyrus had predicted….the fae started to arrive.  Their purpose here though….was yet to be discovered.  Whatever their purpose Julala and the Warden knew that the crystal of Willowford Abbot was an important piece of the puzzle as it sat in its pride of place within the fae village.

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